Vomiting may be caused by a serious illness or may occur as a side effect of a medical treatment or condition. Drinking a lot of water, or any other fluid, after vomiting may cause you to vomit more. While vomiting isn't harmful, it can lead to dehydration, which is potentially harmful, especially for children and older adults.
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How to Hydrate After Vomiting
Don't drink any liquids for one or two hours after vomiting. If your mouth gets dry or you have a bad taste in your mouth, you may suck on ice chips or rinse your mouth out with water. One to two hours after vomiting and after nausea has decreased, start to rehydrate slowly. Sip clear fluids every 15 minutes for three to four hours. If you start to vomit again, restart the hydration process from the beginning.
Acceptable Fluids After Vomiting
After vomiting, drink clear fluids that do not contain caffeine or alcohol. It's okay to drink water or liquids that contain sugar. Ginger ale, fruit juice, sports drinks and clear broths are acceptable fluids. Do not drink fruit juices that are acidic, such as orange juice or lemonade. You may also eat popsicles or gelatin snacks. Avoid drinking milk or fatty liquids. If vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea, limit sweetened drinks, which may worsen diarrhea. Instead, choose products specially formulated to replace electrolytes, which are available in liquids and popsicles.
When to See a Doctor
In some cases vomiting may be treated with self-care, but in other instances you may need to see a doctor. Dehydration may be caused by a loss of fluids during vomiting, an inability to drink fluids or a combination of both. Children and older adults are most at risk for dehydration after vomiting. Since children may not be able to communicate their symptoms to you, watch them closely for signs of dehydration. These include dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, sunken eyes, lack of tears, dizziness and feeling lethargic. Urinating less than once every eight hours is also a sign of dehydration. See a doctor if you suspect dehydration, or if you experience if nausea and vomiting last more than 24 hours. Children need to see a doctor if they've been vomiting for more than 12 hours. Contact a doctor at once for an infant who has a serious bout of vomiting; dehydration can occur very quickly with infants.
Other serious symptoms that warrant a doctor's visit include vomiting accompanied by abdominal pain and vomiting blood.
Eating After Vomiting
Wait at least 12 hours after vomiting to eat solid foods. Start with small amounts of crackers, dry toast, pretzels, bananas, white rice, plain potatoes or applesauce. Eat only foods that are bland, avoiding spicy and fatty foods. Also avoid raw fruits and vegetables if vomiting was accompanied by diarrhea. Stop eating if nausea or vomiting returns.